Yesterday, my employer, Western Washington University, unveiled a new logo, the product of many, many hours of research, deliberation, design, redesign, and student feedback, and from the reaction you’d think that the logo was an unmitigated disaster.
Judge for yourself:
Pretty nice, huh? I particularly like the abstract swoopy-line representation of Mt. Baker and the swoopy water elements, how they capture the sense of place, a campus nestled, as it is, between the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound, important when you consider that for years surveys have clearly indicated that the main reason students choose to come to Western is: location, location, location.
For contrast, the old logo:
Here, the “location” consists of the front doors of the main administrative building on campus, Old Main, a place students go to when they have to pay tuition, check on their financial aid, complain about not being able to get into the classes they need, go for help at the Tutorial Center when they are struggling academically, or go for help at the Counseling Center when they are struggling emotionally.
Personally, I like the more positive associations of the new logo, and yet, posts on WWU’s online discussion forum, Viking Village, are full of the kind of vitriol usually reserved for tuition increases, the cost of textbooks, or dining hall food.
I’ve had some personal experience in logo design, not as the designer, but as a member of the design review and approval committee, and I can say unequivocally that it is an exhausting, brutal process. Subjectivity is a very powerful fact of life, and graphic designers are usually sensitive, creative people who have to have the patience of Job, making dozens and dozens of revisions, great and small, under a delusion that it’s actually possible to please everyone on the committee.
In an act that was nothing short of heroic, the student designer who worked on the Western logo, noticing how strong the reaction was, posted a new thread on the forum, identifying himself as the designer, and offering to answer any questions his fellow students might have.
Sadly, he’s been spared no mercy.
It would be funny if it weren’t so disturbing, that people could get so angry about something so insignificant.